The story of Solomon is ultimately a tragic one, but we shouldn’t get so caught up in the end that we forget the beginning. The Bible details the reigns of dozens of kings, but the beginning of Solomon’s story is unique. He offers sacrifices at the great high place at Gibeon (even though the ark is outside Jerusalem, the tabernacle and the rest of its furnishings are at Gibeon), and in response, God appears to him in a vision and says, “Ask me for anything.”
Unprompted, driven entirely by his own humility and his sense of inadequacy for the task before him, Solomon asks for wisdom. His answer pleases God so much that He blesses him with all the other attributes of a great king too.
Ah, wisdom! Is there anything else like it? Even wisdom is no guarantee against falling away (as Solomon’s own life proves), but when life is so difficult and the devil is so cunning, the more wisdom any of us can accumulate, the better off we will be.
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait until God appears to us in a vision in order to ask for it. In James 1:5, James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” This is extremely significant. When we pray for health, or prosperity, or long life, or many of the other things we commonly pray for, we are not guaranteed a positive answer.
When we pray for wisdom, however, we are. As long as we ask for wisdom in faith, God promises that He will give it to us (in James’ beautiful phrase) generously and without reproach. Basically, whenever we pray, we ought to ask for wisdom. Is there ever a reason not to?
Of course, when we pray for wisdom, we must be careful not to reject God’s efforts to bless us. It doesn’t make much sense to pray for wisdom and then let our Bibles collect dust until it’s time to go to worship. It doesn’t make sense to pray for wisdom and pay no attention to the counsel of our wise friends. It doesn’t even make sense to pray for wisdom and fail to spend time meditating and reflecting on our lives and the decisions we’ve made. If we do any of those things, we are setting our lives at odds with our prayers.
However, if we are diligent in our pursuit of wisdom, it will bless us in ways we never would have imagined. It may well be that God promised Solomon riches and long life and honor because He knew that Solomon would gain those things through the use of his wisdom anyway. Under the sun, there are no guarantees, but wisdom is useful in literally every area of our lives. Maybe we won’t become rich, but wisdom will certainly help us to avoid many of the pitfalls that land others in financial trouble. The wise life will inevitably be a better life, and the wiser we become, the more likely we are to inherit eternal life too.